Category Archives: Administration

Extortion from Duncan and Obama?

Recently, Secretary of Education Duncan continued his push for the Obama Administration’s education policies as he provided an escape from the faulty and unrealistic mandates of the No Child Left Behind law. However, instead of simply admitting that NCLB does not work, needs an overhaul, and is being repealed, a press release was presented which says that states can be excused from NCLB if they sign onto other requirements. Here is part of that press release:

The administration’s proposal for fixing NCLB calls for college- and career-ready standards, more great teachers and principals, robust use of data, and a more flexible and targeted accountability system based on measuring annual student growth. Barnes and Duncan will note that the final details on the ESEA flexibility package will reflect similar goals. The specifics of the package will be made public in September.

Sounds like value-added scores or evaluations based on standardized test scores and Common Core standards being adopted, the same ideas in Race to the Trough Top.

Is this just a choice of the lesser of two evils? Escape from a bad law by agreeing to bad legislation? Essentially, Duncan seems to be telling the states that NCLB doesn’t work and the states can be excused from it if they agree to potentially worse (and unproven) legislation.

The federal level is not the place to solve local education decisions. Duncan even admits that the best decisions for schools comes from the local level:

There is no magic bullet for fixing education and the best ideas will always come from the local level—from the hardworking men and women in our schools doing the hard work every day to educate our children.

This offer from Duncan’s office and the Obama Administration appears at best to be an administration trying to push its education agenda onto states and at worst to be an open extortion of suffering states.

Reject this offer. Force the government to fix NCLB. Make the administration do what it promised.



Teach for America Doesn’t Get It

I suppose Teach for America had to respond, had to try and make itself look defensible, but TfA got it wrong. In a response to the NEA denouncing some of its practices, the group stated: “we do not and would not engage in union busting or silencing activities.”

Now, this in response to a business item at the NEA Representative Assembly in Chicago (which passed) and stated in part: that the NEA opposes TfA contracts in districts “where there is no teacher shortage or when districts use TFA agreements to reduce teacher costs, silence union voices, or as a vehicle to bust unions.” (I commented on this briefly in a recent post.)

The NEA business item itself came from teachers in Seattle whose district allowed TfA teachers to apply for jobs within the district even though the district had a glut of teachers recently let go because of budgets and teachers looking for jobs already. Seattle had no need for TfA teachers. Teach for America continuously claims that their teachers only go where job shortages exist or in high-need areas, neither of which describes Washington State.

It’s true that TfA teachers are often union members (and this was brought up at the NEA rep. assembly), but it’s also true that TfA teachers come with a “fee for each member” making these teachers more expensive in a time of budget cuts.

Plus, this comes during a time when Washington State is clearly a target of union busting groups like Stand For Children and as Jonah Edelman explained in a much-distributed video. Besides Stand For Children, Washington State has locally-funded groups backed by Bill Gates attacking the schools in Washington State and who sent funding specifically to Teach for America. (And, the only reason anyone engages Gates on education is that he has a fat pocket book, but zero education experience.)

TfA is trying to force themselves into areas where they are unnecessary. TfA is really looking to supplant the teachers already there (as in Seattle where over 46,000 teachers applied for 4,500 jobs and this infusion also hurts our local education programs). Beyond this, TfA has a very poor record of keeping its teachers in education for very long but is very well funded in numerous ways.

If Teach for America was solely looking to help kids not served by public education, it would stay in the identified high-needs areas, it would not need to pay districts to allow it to enter, it would not need to sway board members by promising extras, and it would work alongside public educators instead of working against them.

Who Is “The Education Governor?”

Rob McKenna (R) and Jay Inslee (D) are running for Washington State’s governorship, and both will want the WEA and NEA union endorsements, but who is the true friend of education in Washington State?

This Publicola article shows what we know so far, but really we have little to go on. McKenna wants to increase funding without a plan to do it (and he does not want to raise any tax, so from where does the money come?). He worries me. To me, he sounds like Governor Walker in Wisconsin.

Inslee just hasn’t said anything yet. I’m curious what he will say.